Where do I start…
Sunday was the tip of the iceberg for me this week…Steph gave her first talk in Sacrament Meeting! We had a missionary from our ward come home from Thiland, so the bishopric first had Steph tell her conversion story, then a re-activated member explain why and how he came back to church, followed up by this missionary that told our side of the Lord’s work. It was one of the most spirit-filled sacrament meetings I’ve been to, I think just because I saw Steph’s testimony grow from the beginning. When she got up, she told the congregation simply how happy she was that she had multiple friends throughout her life who had the gospel, who always invited her to come to church. It wasn’t until December when she she met the “ladies with the nametags at church every week,” and she decided she wanted to follow her heart. Her simple testimony was enough to make everyone want to drop everything and invite their neighborhood to church: “It’s just this happiness inside–you know you’re doing what’s right. The gospel changes lives.” That’s what you call seeing the fruit of your labors.
I got a trainer call last night, which means that I’m going back to the sites to flush train next week—a new area with a new companion. She’s going to absolutely love this mission, and I can’t wait to show it to her! But…I’m really going to miss this ward. Apparently in seminary this week, the seminary teacher had the class guess the missionaries love languages. (We had dinner at their home and took a test…not the generic one, but one that had just three: visual, touch, and talk.) When Brother Griffiths asked the class what mine was, all of them jumped up and said, “OOO! SHE HAS TO BE TALK!” It was funny…they were spot on. I was 6–visual, 17–talk, and 4–touch. Ha! It was funny…and a little bit (a lot) heartwarming that the young men/young women knew me so well. We’ve spent a lot of time with the ward getting to know them and their families the past six months, and it really pays off when we get people like Anne and Steph into the water. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything in my life so bittersweet as leaving Brockport and then going back to the gorgeous historical sites in upstate New York. My heart is literally split in two. So many people to love in so little time.
This weekend, however, Sister Johnson and I did get a little get-a-way to the sites. We took another member that had just recently come back to church since she was baptized in 1988, and showed her around all four of the sites. We spent all day with her, and the one-on-one time was just what she needed to keep pursuing that temple recommend. That is one of the huge perks about serving in the NYRM, we get to take investigators, new members, and less-active members to our favorite places to strengthen their testimony. We get to show them the Restoration first hand, and let them feel the original spirit that has been their constantly since the miraculous First Vision in 1820. The next day we scheduled our temple day, which happened to be the same day as we had planned to do weekly planning. We decided to get up early and save our studies to do on top of the Hill Cumorah. While we were up there, Sister Johnson and I met the most wonderful couple from the Southern Tier who had never been to the sites before. They were just driving past the Hill, noticed a tall gold man on top of it, and decided they needed to stop. What a great choice they made! They had the Restoration taught to them in the Visitors’ Center by the sisters, but then came up to the top. We happened to be reading the last few chapters of Mormon which describes the battle scenes that took place on the very ground we were sitting, and we got to testify to them the sacredness of the spot. That was the first time I ever got to teach while looking out over what used to be the Nephite and Lamanite lands. Of course I’ve taught on the Hill before (see any email about the Pageant), but this was literally…on the top. Mormon 8:16 popped into my mind, “And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yeah it shall be brought forth out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.” I know for a fact that I was not just called to western New York, but I was specifically called to the Cradle of the Restoration. If that would have been in Kansas, I would have been sent to Kansas. If it would have been in Florida, I would have been sent to Florida. I am so humbled at the fact that the Lord will allow me to lift up my voice on the very ground this is taking place, not only to bless my life, but to bless the lives of those who have no idea the happiness that they could have.
Other than that, we’ve done tons of service projects this week again. We have even more planned for this week! (I promise I’m not just trying to get out of wearing a skirt all day.)